Influencer Insights: CJ Johnson

CJ Johnson is an award-winning photographer and content creator, a GQ Insider and Google Next-Gen Policy Leader, and a well-known “brand guru.” We wanted to learn more about his process and asked for his perspective on the state of influencer marketing.

KG: How do you as a social influencer create partnerships, and what is your criteria before aligning yourself to an opportunity?

Typically, I say yes to partnerships or sponsored opportunities with brands if it’s an industry I’m knowledgeable about and interested in already. That’s important. Then, I want to be sure the ROI makes sense and is beneficial to me and my time. More and more, I’m starting to explore social causes, too. Creating these partnerships varies – some come organically my way, others I reach out to. If my goals are aligned with those of the brand or cause, then it’s off to the races.

KG: Recently there have been headlines about consumers feeling “influencer fatigue,” as they voice feelings about inauthentic content. How should you and other social media influencers respond to this sentiment?

CJ: Influencers who are frustrated or misunderstood by this discussion are feeling a bit judged. There is always room for improvement – everyone can agree on that. The “fatigue” mentioned is stemming from every influencer trying to compete with one another, and the inauthenticity is felt because of a lack of imagination as people copy each other. To help the state of influencer marketing, people need to be more educated about this industry and there also needs to be a culture that fosters more creativity.

Additionally, a more standard pay structure would help influencers understand their market value and how to better negotiate their pay. Right now, influencers – and the brands they collaborate with – are in the dark with what the market asks for. It’s a bit all over the place. Someone with 100k followers on Instagram can demand $1,500 per post while someone else can ask for $500, and both parties don’t even know the real value of either ask.

KG: You say there needs to be more education on the industry. In what ways do you see that playing out?

CJ: For content creators and influencers, there needs to be a clear understanding of professional etiquette, the deliverables they’ll create for companies they collaborate with, and their overall value as a business. On the other side of this, companies need to understand what really incentivizes these content creators and influencers. It’s not just about free stuff or monetary value. Content creators and influencers honestly care about their messaging and the impact they’ll make on their community. With every collaboration there is a lot more risk involved than you’d think.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more to learn on both sides of the aisle. We’ll see more workshops, webinars and events that will center around these topics in the future, for sure.

KG: Do you think the influencer space is becoming too cluttered?  Is there still room for individuals to make their mark and curate authentic community online?

CJ: For every article that talks about the pitfalls of influencer marketing, I see another that talks about how fast it’s growing into a lucrative sector. Two things stick out to me. First, the critiques often come from someone who is attempting to be an influencer, someone who is frustrated with not being recognized, even possibly experiencing a bit of “FOMO” (fear of missing out). The second thing is a difference in audience perception due to the influencer strategy – one sees content from influencers as annoying advertisements, and the other has no idea they’re looking at an ad in the first place. In any case, I think transparency and authenticity is key to growth and success in influencer marketing.

Even if it’s cluttered, it’s a growing industry. Influencer marketing used to be a thing only a few people were doing online, and now there’s an upcoming generation whose sole goal it is to grow up and be an online influencer. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bubble waiting to burst – I think of influencer marketing as evolving just as the acting or entrepreneur industries have done.

KG: What is your advice to companies considering influencer marketing as a part of their strategy?

CJ: First, consider why you need it in the first place, and then what your goals will be. Too many times, I see companies that “heard from a friend” or are following a competitor that is growing quickly because of influencer marketing, so they want in too. But that can lead to unrealistic expectations or experimenting without quite understanding the value of an influencer. So, please recognize the “why” before you begin. Secondly, you need to understand there are several strategies with influencer marketing now, including:

  • Getting as many influencers on board as possible
  • Recruiting a smaller number of influencers to act as brand ambassadors
  • A combination of the above for a specific limited campaign
  • One-off influencer-promoted posts
  • Repurposed influencer content and posts

When you know which plan fits your goals, set aside the time to do authentic research. Yes, there are automated tools and databases, but it might be smart to also have a team-member (here’s looking at you, interns) do some research on influencers that fit your criteria. After researching, make sure your collaborative efforts bring as much value and long-term relationships as possible. Again, influencer marketing is incredibly impactful and a lot more cost-effective than people give it credit for.

We enjoy following CJ online and think you might too. Learn more about what he’s up to by visiting his Twitter or Instagram.

7 Steps to Successful LinkedIn Marketing

In recent weeks, we’ve explored how to develop a content strategy, how to set up a social media program from scratch, and how to use thought leadership bylines to earn media coverage. All of these content approaches complement each other and help reinforce a brand’s identity. But the power of the written, or recorded, word can only get as far as the audience you’ve built to consume it. Luckily, there’s a way to amplify the reach and impact of this owned and earned content that we find quite valuable and our clients are consistently curious about: LinkedIn Sponsored Content.

 Adding a paid element to your PR program helps bridge the gap between traditional PR and traditional marketing, which shouldn’t operate in silos anyway. We like to take a strategic view of LinkedIn promotion, using a step-by-step practice to develop and continually optimize a highly-targeted LinkedIn ads campaign that complements existing content development and organic social media initiatives. The approach outlined below helps identify hyper-relevant prospects, target them with the right content, understand what content to create in the future and serve your company’s ultimate marketing goals.

 Step 1: Identify Ideal Audience

As with any marketing process, you can’t succeed if you don’t know who you’re talking to or trying to reach. But if you know who the decision makers, influencers or buyers are that you want to influence with your content, you can target them at a granular level on LinkedIn. By combing criteria, you can hit a hyper-targeted user set and ensure you’re not spending money promoting content to users who will never make a difference for your bottom line.  You can target audiences in three ways:

  • Demographics – Job function, seniority, company name, geographic region, industry, etc.
  • Interest-based targeting – Group membership, skills, fields of study
  • Company audience data – Target account lists your sales team is using (Note, you’ll need a lot of names for this to be effective, but it guarantees a precise audience.)

Step 2: Define Campaign Goal and Associated Content Formats

Once you know who you want to read your content and ultimately to engage with your brand as a potential customer, you’ll need to define the goal of your campaign. This will determine the kind of content you promote. For content you don’t already have, you’ll need to focus on developing it as part of a comprehensive owned, earned and paid media program. For the following goals, you’ll want to emphasize the associated content:

 Brand awareness

  • Company blog posts on LinkedIn
  • Press releases
  • Long-form posts
  • Visuals/videos
  • Product announcements
  • Promotion of tradeshow attendance

Thought leadership

  • eBook, whitepaper, video, research
  • Industry commentary
  • Long-form posts
  • Guest blogs on other blogs
  • Industry trends or data

 Lead generation

  • eBooks­
  • Webinars
  • How-to guides
  • Blog posts with calls-to-action (CTA)
  • “Freemium” downloads/gated content
  • Industry-related reports

Step 3: Develop an Editorial Calendar

Once you know which content to share, set up an editorial calendar – this will help you to visualize the rhythm of content being published and ensure that you’re addressing different aspects of your brand’s value proposition. Having everything written out will also help make sure you share different forms of content to keep things fresh and engaging for all members of your target audience, depending on their interest, challenge, or stage in the buying process:

  • Awareness: Have realized and expressed symptoms of potential problems or an opportunity.
  • Consideration: Have clearly defined and given a name to their problem or opportunity, actively looking for ways to address the issue.
  • Decision: Have defined their solution strategy, method or approach and ready to take the next step.

Step 4: Identify Assets and Messaging to Promote Content

Identify and/or develop compelling ad copy (150 words or less) and visual content that make readers want to click on or download the content you’re promoting. If you can’t sell your content, no one will read it no matter how informative or well-written it is.

Hint: Include calls to action, statistics, quotes, actionable text.

Step 5: Determine Ad Method

Sponsored Content

Sponsored content campaigns are promoted through paid channels based on posts you have also made directly on your Company Page. They are best used to attract new followers to the company website or landing page and drive engagement with company-specific content.

Company Page posts (status updates) can be promoted in the newsfeeds of both followers and non-followers whose demographics have been specifically targeted. This is a good option for posting blog content, articles about your company or to showcase commentary, award wins, customer or product announcements, and more.

Direct Sponsored Content

The direct sponsored content option allows you to post content directly in the LinkedIn feed without the content originating on your LinkedIn Company Page. This is useful if you don’t want the post to clutter your company’s LinkedIn profile page, but otherwise operates the same as sponsored content.

Website Ads

LinkedIn also offers more traditional website ads, which lead readers to the company website and often start at $2.00 per click and up. These are best leveraged for sending interested parties to your website to download gated content – whitepapers, e-books, case studies, webinars – for lead generation, or to product pages for direct sales promotion. If you choose this option, you should set up goal tracking in Google Analytics to count how many contact form submissions are received as a result of a given ad. Then judge what your cost per lead is and determine if it is delivering appropriate ROI.

Step 6: Set a Budget

Finally, you’ll need to decide what your total monthly budget for LinkedIn ads will be, and how you’ll allocate your spend – either emphasizing CPM (cost per 1000 impressions) if your goal is brand visibility, or CPC (cost per click) if your goal is lead generation or website traffic conversion.

LinkedIn Ads work on a bidding process, so depending on the audience you compete for, the price will change to show an ad. Bids are only processed at $.01 more than second-highest bid, so you can set your bids at the top limit of what you consider a fair value for the click or impression.

Step 7: Reporting/Continuous Improvement

It’s essential to monitor and analyze the key metrics of your campaigns on an ongoing basis. This review process is critical for finding opportunities for improvement to your campaigns, whether it’s improving reach, accuracy of targeting, CPC or CPM, website conversions, engagement and much more.

You should use the LinkedIn campaign manager to review all the metrics available on the platform itself, but also refer to your Google Analytics reports to see how successful you’ve been at driving increased traffic to your website as a whole or to specific landing pages on the site. There are also tools like LinkedIn Insight Tag to your website that will help you evaluate deeper insights about your campaign and users to continue improve your LinkedIn, content marketing, and overall marketing goals.

To learn more about how LinkedIn can help drive brand awareness and lead generation as part of your PR or marketing program, feel free to reach out to me directly – [email protected] – and don’t forget to follow Ketner Group Communications on LinkedIn and Twitter for more valuable tips like these.

 

7-Step Guide to Starting Up a Social Media Program

Social media is a key element of any marketing strategy, allowing brands to connect and engage with their audience and grow the business. Whether it’s used to generate leads, showcase new products, deliver better customer service, or manage reputation and brand image, businesses are taking advantage of the benefits of social media platforms to help generate online exposure.

Over the years, we’ve helped clients increase the visibility and impact of their ongoing social media initiatives, but we’ve recently taken on an entirely new challenge: launching a social media program from scratch.

Although creating a social media program can seem daunting at first, with the right plan of action, you can see great results in just a few months – we have! Below are some easy steps we followed to create a successful social media program for a client of ours, with helpful tips we’ve learned along the way.

Step 1. Develop Your Goals
As with any other PR campaign, it’s important to define your goals from the start so you know what success looks like. Then, work backwards to identify the steps you’ll take to achieve that goal. Aimlessly starting a social media program will result in just another content channel with limited purpose, and less impact. Carefully develop an overarching goal, and define campaign strategies and tactics that help you achieve it.

Step 2. Research, Research, Research
Research is key to understanding how to achieve those goals you just developed. There are so many great resources out there that can help you answer questions like:

  • Which channels are the best fit for my company?
  • How often should I be posting on each channel?
  • Should I use paid or organic posts?
  • What sort of content should I be focused on?
  • How do I measure success?

This is also a good time to conduct a competitor audit to understand how your competitors are doing online and what type of social content they are posting. The more you know, the more you can be confident with the decisions you make!

Step 3. Set up Your Accounts
Now that you’ve identified which networks you’ll be active on, it’s time to set up your accounts. Fill out your profiles completely with an easy-to-understand bio (no jargon!) and appealing visuals that are tailored to your audience. Also, make sure to give the appropriate people on your team access to the account so they can manage the pages, too.

 Step 4. Create a Social Media Content Calendar
Go back to your research and see what sort of content you should focus on. Channels shouldn’t be overly promotional, so balance company news and products with thought leadership articles to show that your company has a firm grasp on the impact of the latest industry news and trends.

Tip: Schedule a few posts and fill your page with content before you start following people. That way, people visiting your page don’t see an empty feed with no incentive to follow back!

Step 5. Get Relevant Followers
Start following relevant users who you think could benefit from your channel. Remember, gaining more followers isn’t always the main objective. Look back at the goals and strategies you developed in Step one and target followers that will help you achieve it. It’s also a good idea to send out an email to your employees, encouraging them to follow and engage on your platforms.

Tip: Liking relevant posts is a great way to get more people to find your channel. You can also use hashtags and tag users in your posts to get more views.

 Step 6. Evaluate Your Strategy with Regular Reviews
With so many moving parts, you can’t expect to get your social media strategy perfect the first time around. That’s why testing and evaluating your strategy on a regular basis is necessary to creating an effective campaign. Look to see if you met your short-term goals and assess what you can do to improve the program. After you’ve taken a look at what’s working and what’s not, adjust accordingly. Re-strategize and take action on what you can do to optimize your social channels.

Step 7. Consider Using Paid to Amplify Your Content
Take the value of your strongest-performing content to the next level by putting paid behind your posts. Not only do you get to set your own budget, you can also collect data on the type of people viewing and clicking on your page. If you’re being strategic and really targeting your audience for lead generation purposes, paid social can lead to results that are far beyond industry averages. For example, we’re seeing click through rates (CTR) as high as 1.739% for one of our clients on LinkedIn – way better than the industry benchmark of 0.13% – even while keeping the cost per click (CPC) under the industry benchmark! With constant analysis and tweaking of content messaging and audience targeting, these results only get more impressive.

Tip: LinkedIn allows you to upload a list or specify a segmented audience to target. It also says that the most successful campaigns target between 60,000 and 600,000 membersat a time.

If you don’t have a social media program in place yet, now is the time to start. Feel free to contact our team at Ketner Group to learn more about how we can help your business develop and manage a social media program that meets your business goals!

Retailers are fighting back this year on Prime Day


This blog was written by our intern, Madeleine Hatley.

Amazon launched their third annual Prime Day starting Monday, July 10. Prime Day 2017 was the biggest sales day in history for Amazon, surpassing both Black Friday and Cyber Monday according to the Amazon press release highlighting the outcome of Prime Day this year. Despite popular opinion, this ‘micro’ holiday is not about boosting sales. It is simply a marketing tactic to advertise their “Prime” membership that guarantees customers fast shipping for an annual fee. And, boy, does it work.

Prime Day sales grew by more than 60 percent from last year, with a “record number” of Prime members shopping across 13 countries, Amazon said. It added that “tens of millions of Prime members” made purchases during Prime Day, up more than 50 percent from Prime Day in 2016.

According to a recent Consumer Intelligence Research Partners report, from June of 2016 to June of 2017, Amazon gained around 44 million subscribers. Although Amazon refuses to disclose an exact number, estimates show that Prime currently has around 85 million subscribers.

With 30 hours to shop, Prime members flocked especially to Amazon devices like the Echo, Fire tablets and Kindle devices, with the most popular device sold being the Amazon Echo Dot. Other top sellers include DNA tests for health and ancestry, gaming consoles such as the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation Plus memberships. The sales event also slashed prices on a number of fashion items and beauty products, including marked down fashion brands such as Calvin Klein, Gant and Tommy Hilfiger, with prices going down by as much as 40%, according to The Telegraph.

An Opportunity for Retailers
Although Amazon has seen major success from its annual holiday, it doesn’t mean that competing retailers need to fret. Research suggests that Prime Day could, in fact, be helpful to other online retailers. According to an analysis from Criteo, Prime Day creates a “halo effect” for other retailers, with online traffic increasing for major ecommerce sites around 15% on Prime Day 2016 and the day after, compared with weeks earlier.

 This means that Amazon Prime Day is the perfect opportunity for retailers to cash in on the consumption culture that the online giant created, a similar effect from Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Shoppers are on the hunt for well-timed promotions within this time frame, and it’s up to retailers to lure them in beyond Amazon’s borders. For example, Claus Commerce-powered Freeshipping.com boosted profits last year when they saw an uptick in their number of orders and the average order value, when they offered a 20% discount last Prime Day according to Bezinga, indicating that positive outcomes can come out of Prime Day, even for competitors.

Time to Get Creative
Retailers are trying harder this year to grab customers’ attention and drive sales around Amazon Prime Day. Kohl’s offered 30% discounts on summer clothes and accessories for 30 hours.  Other stores like Toys R Us and Best Buy were also ahead of the game and featuring sales lasting six hours longer than Prime Day, featuring sales on Google Home.

Retailers should learn that in order to compete with Amazon, they have to be creative in the way they advertise around this holiday fueled by capitalism. They will have to market products consumers want at a reasonable price, advance technology on mobile platforms and get innovative to grab customers’ attention.

Retailers that stepped up to the plate on Prime Day in terms of competition were Wal-Mart and its digital company, Jet.com, as well as Macy’s. Wal-Mart matched many of Amazon’s discounts on various items. Market Track compared prices and determined Wal-Mart’s efforts to compete stood out the most among many companies. Similarly, Macy’s hosted their annual “Black Friday in July” sale that offered 25% off site-wide and offered free shipping exclusively on Prime Day.

With sales expected to top $1 billion this year, Amazon has seen major success in its Prime Day efforts. Now, it’s up to competing retailers to strategize their game for next year so that e-commerce customers can focus their attention on deals outside of Prime Day.

A Marketers Christmas

Moving Beyond The 30 Second Super Bowl Ad Spot

This blog was provided by our intern, Daniela Ramirez.

The biggest sports event of the year, the Super Bowl, is one of America’s most highly celebrated events. Millions tune in every year to watch two teams go up against one another, competing for the NFL’s biggest title. But this year I tuned in for a different reason, the ads.

We all know how expensive these advertising spots for the Super Bowl are and generally only major brands can afford to make the investment. However, I often find myself thinking, “Why would you spend all of that money? How do these high profile brands measure their ROI for a spot that can cost businesses over $5 million? Is it even worth it to have your name out there for 30 seconds when it has the opportunity to be skipped over, muted or even fast-forwarded in today’s DVR world?”

Companies often use the Super Bowl as an opportunity to move a brand or product forward in the marketplace, pioneer forward thinking and engage with their consumers. With this in mind, many brands are moving beyond the traditional TV platform to share their message and create a bigger strategy out of their 30-second ad spot. This is where public relations and marketing come in.

Since brand’s now have more opportunities and channels at their disposal, they can create and drive an entire campaign around one ad, such as Lumber 84 did this year. The televised “The Full Journey” spot prompted users to head to their website to discover the uncut film and find out what happens at the end of the journey. What you found was not a simple advertising campaign, but a powerful statement that has made this brand that was previously only well-known in the building supply industry, a household name. Shortly after the spot aired, Lumber 84’s website crashed as a result of social media conversation and publicity around the advertisement’s message.

Airbnb’s Super Bowl spot was part of larger campaign launch. Shortly after their “We Accept” spot aired, I received an email to my inbox as a call to action to learn more about their brand and #weaccept campaign.

Photo taken from Airbnb’s email

 

After clicking the “Learn More” button, I was led to a blog post that provided me with more information about the campaign and Airbnb’s corporate social responsibility initiatives.

 

Photo taken from Airbnb’s website

 

These cross-channel marketing strategies are one of the many tactics communications professionals are using to make their advertising dollars go further. And, we saw this not just after the ads aired but before kickoff. Many brands teased their spots before the Super Bowl event to generate buzz, create curiosity and engage with their audience.

Whether it’s before, during or after the big game, ultimately, brands need to implement a strategy that will resonate with their audience. But the challenge is figuring out how to do that. In the age of digital, brands are always looking for new ways to break through the noise and be top of mind. No matter the medium, it’s now more important than ever for advertising, marketing and public relations professionals to join forces and communicate one cohesive message while keeping the consumer in the middle of the conversation.

 

 

 

 

The Inescapability of the Word ‘Millennial’

millennialsThis blog was written by our intern, Kamilla Rahman.

If you’ve ever surfed the web for more than 10 minutes, you’ve definitely come across the word millennial at least five times. People are constantly talking about millennials, what they’re doing, what they want, what they will be doing, how they react and how to resonate with them. Even the KG team has been known to write about millennials on behalf of our clients from time to time – here is a recent example.

According to Investopedia, “a millennial is the given name to the generation born between 1982 and 2004…this generation is often associated with technology and social media.” In the last couple of years, there has been a more specific consensus. A millennial is basically someone in their 20’s or 30’s.

The world is infatuated with millennials, and as a millennial, I honestly don’t get it. I was flipping through a few articles the other day and almost every article referenced the millennial generation. I do understand millennials are important, especially when regarding technology and retail. We’re a different generation, we’re nontraditional, we’re viewed as more independent, we have different expectations and we are more technologically advanced than our parents and grandparents with a tremendous amount of buying power.

But why the obsession?

Some of the headlines read:

Though all of these articles are extremely insightful, as a millennial, I don’t understand why all of these brands and companies are constantly trying to appeal to us. The word is everywhere. It’s basically inescapable and everyone seems to think that appealing to a millennial is the magic key to all things holy and great.

My brother and I are both millennials. He was born in 1985 and I was born in 1995. Throughout most of our lives, our purchasing habits, interests and even technological awareness have been different. Though they are closer today than they have ever been, they’re still completely different.

He’s 31, he goes to work, has meetings all day, buys suits and dress pants, goes to CrossFit, has nice dinners with his beloved girlfriend, just bought a house, gets a beer with his buds, checks his iPad for emails, pretty much knows what he’s doing with his life and occasionally has a late night out. I, on the other hand, am 21. I’m about to start my senior year of college, I intern, I’m an avid online shopper, I go out with my friends almost every weekend, I study, am always on the move and suffer withdrawal symptoms when I don’t have my phone for more than 45 minutes.

The only things we really have in common are that we stay busy and know technology. I may be wrong here, but that just doesn’t seem like the proper way to target consumers, especially in retail. The word millennial is too broad. It encompasses people that are in completely different stages of their lives. To me, focusing efforts around millennials is just an over-followed trend.

Don’t get me wrong; appealing to millennials has definitely shifted the way marketers appeal to consumers. It has become intuitive, personal and brands have figured out how to market in a way that is additive to peoples’ lives. But if you think about it, don’t generations older and younger want that as well?

In retail and technology, a new goal is personalization; so my question is why do these industries continue to obsess over a market that appears to be so diverse and vague?

PRSA Corner: Breaking Through the Noise and Reaching Your Target Audience

ClpsEJ3UYAAqeNFWe recently attended and were the official sponsor of the June PRSA Austin Chapter Luncheon. The luncheon titled, “Media Relations: Insights from the Newsroom,” featured three journalist panelists who discussed how media has evolved over the years, the integration of skills and technology in media relations and how PR professionals can (and should) break through the noise to reach target audiences. Here are some highlights:

Tara Doolittle is the Viewpoints editor for the Austin American-Statesman and is in charge of the editorial pages and online commentary. She began as a rookie reporter in 1997 and has worked with the newspaper’s reporting teams covering education, city hall and lifestyle. As many journalists do, Tara receives over 400 emails a day, which means getting her attention is no easy task. Although she gives first priority to local pitches over others, she tells PR folks to send short pitches, know who you are pitching and focus on the journalist’s interests, and course, always be sensitive to deadlines. Other key take-aways from Tara:

  • For hard news and community engagement pitches, Tara recommends doing research on how other publications (in other areas) report certain trends and how those trends might play out locally. Look for ways to tell the local story. As well, Tara says PR professionals should “think broadly” because the Statesman is not just a print newspaper, but a multimedia content platform.
  • According to Tara, the digital space is the way to go, especially with social media and sharing. She recommends PR professionals think about this when it comes to pitches. Photos and videos are a great way to keep people on the website for longer periods of time – it’s a win-win for everyone!
  • Tara said the biggest struggle she faces as an editor for a daily local newspaper is serving three sets of readers because they all want different things: folks who don’t pay for online content; folks who do pay and read online content; and full subscribers.

Erin Quinn-Kong is the editor-in-chief of Austin Monthly and the editorial director of Austin MonthlyAustin HOME and austinmonthly.com. A Missouri native, she attended the University of Missouri School of Journalism and worked in New York City as an editor at Allure and Us Weekly before moving to Austin in 2008. Compared to the Statesman, Austin Monthly operates with a smaller staff who has to work very hard to keep up with daily and monthly deadlines. It’s a fast-paced environment (with a small staff), which definitely makes it hard for PR professionals to get the attention of the editorial team. Knowing that, Erin says it is critical for PR professionals to know why the story would work in her publication, and know who you’re pitching to and why. Other key take-aways from Erin:

  • Pitches come into play when they make a connection to something that relates to the local area, or that may have appeared “buzz worthy” on social media. That is the sweet spot on pitches!
  • Erin recommends asking them to coffee. As editors, she believes it is part of their job to know the PR people in town. Having the opportunity to be “face to face” with PR professionals is a much better way to connect than an email.
  • Her biggest challenges as the editor of Austin Monthly include creating boundaries between her job and life and the struggle of small budgets and staff combined with high expectations.

 Haley Cihock is Executive Producer for KXAN. With 15 years of experience in broadcast news, she writes, edits and manages a team of producers, anchors, editors and field reporters working on the noon newscasts across two channels. According to Haley, the best stories come from community engagement – listening to the buzz around town, hearing what local citizens are talking about – and then figuring out how to cover the story. She believes that Austin has an engaged audience and people in the city really want to talk. At KXAN, social media is a huge tool for listening for potential stories. Other key take-aways from Haley:

  • Make no mistake, there is limited “on air” time, so Haley recommends that PR professionals pass story ideas and news to the digital side to get more bang for the buck. Using multichannel media is a great way to disperse the message, and it is how stories evolve, especially when it is resonating with people. Haley also says the evolution of media means that things are moving faster and faster, things get lost, so PR folks should try more than one platform to tell their story.
  • As an on-air journalist, Haley has to think of the bigger picture, but often times receives “micro” pitches from PR professionals. Pitches have to be bigger than just one thing. It is important to think beyond your client or your one story – try to make connections that could turn into bigger feature stories.
  • Her biggest challenges as an on-air journalist is always trying to be the first with the story, but to also to get the story right and do it better than anyone else. Erin believes that, for TV journalists, the challenges haven’t changed much, but the ways of approaching them are changing. Her two biggest pieces of advice is to not send video to the newsroom (they have to shoot their own) and to not send gifts to on-air journalists.

Gifs: Redefining Interpersonal Communication

A “gif” is defined as “a computer file format for the compression and storage of digital video images.” (Thanks, Merriam-Webster.) But most recently the term has come to define the looped video used in reaction to a situation or to add “color commentary” to an ongoing conversation between groups of people or to one’s social media post.

Suffice it to say, I am a BIG fan of them.

Since Slack announced its integration with GIPHY two years ago, Ketner Group’s inter-office /giphy tags have provided comedic relief to pretty much any situation we find ourselves in or in one-off conversations we may be having with other team members. I even find myself having entire conversations via /giphy. (Personally I’m partial to Game of Thrones and Beyoncé gifs. Given the recent release of the new season of GoT and LEMONADE, I’m pleased I’ll have a lot more content to work with.)

via GIPHY


via GIPHY

Gifs really are the new expression of emotion or reactions through a two-dimensional medium, be it in interoffice messages or texts with friends. Some might argue that emojis are the current “it” thing, and while I appreciate a good emoji conversation, nothing really says “I-just-secured-awesome-coverage-for-my-client-and-didn’t-break-a-sweat” like Michelle Pfeiffer in Grease 2.


via GIPHY

Or when receiving an unexpected complement, I look to a children’s classic.


via GIPHY

Many brands and companies have introduced their own branded gif keyboards, including Kik with their partnership program, Starbucks with their Frappuccino featured keyboard and Mississippi State’s athletics focused keyboard, to increase their reach with consumers.

With these brands creating their own keyboards and countless others in development, it’s generating a whole new vehicle for us to engage with those brands and use those brands as a means of self-expression, much like we would clothes or accessories. This integrates brands further into our everyday lives, blurring the distinction between marketing and organic content, including GIPHY’s head of business development.

As my parting gift, I’ll leave you with the hilarious fail gifs and let you see if you can figure out which ones are branded.


via GIPHY

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

Scoring a Perfect 10 on Earth Day

This blog was written by our intern, Cambria Sawyer.

Cause marketing is a lot like college.

I first started to see this connection in my journey as a Ketner Group intern back and forth from the office to the jungle (a.k.a. campus). You see, college is a balancing act.

Professors assign you more hours of homework than you have in a day. Somehow I’ve managed to survive off of cheese sticks and grapes for the past week, but the grocery store is in my imminent future. I need to go to the gym, steel drums practice, a club officer meeting and still go out with friends tonight– and all I want to do is take a nap.

Figuring out how to fit all the pieces together so they make sense and reach a goal is a delicate art; the same type of challenge comes with devising an effective cause marketing campaign.

If you break it down, it has two, equally important parts: the cause and the marketing, but putting the two together is easier said than done. Brands have to be careful when they choose a campaign. It must be simple, interesting and brand-relevant, while not appearing insincere. Digiday explains the stakes well in an article warning brands of “cause fatigue,” where poorly balanced campaigns cause consumers to stop taking corporate social responsibility seriously.

This Earth Day, I want to take a few brands from the apparel and fashion industry and rate them on a 1-10 scale for their Earth Day cause marketing balance skills.

 

Photo courtesy of Amour Vert
Photo courtesy of Amour Vert

Amour Vert
Rating: 4
The sustainable fashion brand’s “Buy a Tee Plant a T(r)ee” campaign is fine, but that’s kind of the point– it’s just fine. While the rhyme is catchy and the cause is admirable, the connection between the fashion brand and planting trees is not particularly strong. Not to mention this is definitely not the first time a campaign identical to this has been launched, so it also looses points on originality. It’s clear to a consumer that this campaign is more about the marketing.

 

Burton
Rating: 8
A brand for the earth-conscious adrenaline junky, Burton takes environmental campaigns to the next level.

Photo courtesy of Burton
Photo courtesy of Burton

Their most creative plan to save the world (yes, they have many) is, in my opinion, the Burton x Mountain Dew campaign, where recycled plastic bottles are converted into the thread Burton uses to make some of its equipment and athletic wear. It’s unique, but still hyper-relevant to what they do as a brand. Where the brand falls short is its lack of focus on a specific campaign. While it undoubtedly earns a perfect 10 conservation-wise for facilitating a whopping 11 separate eco-campaigns, the marketing aspect suffers. As the Harvard Business Review advises, keep it simple. There’s a fine line between impressing and overwhelming your customers.

KEEN
Rating: 10
The footwear brand’s motto is “Follow Your Feet,” so that’s what it’s doing– and it’s awesome. KEEN’s Live Monumental Film Tour campaign began as a cross-country road trip 10 months ago in a yellow RV. As the brand ambassadors travelled 7,500 miles from Oregon to Washington, D.C., a film crew captured their efforts as they received more than 40,000 petition signatures to protect 3 million acres of public land, according to Cause Marketing Forum.

Photo courtesy of KEEN
Photo courtesy of KEEN

The grand finale? A yellow-carpet movie premier of the film on Earth Day and film tour to follow. The campaign directly correlates with the hiking- and travel-oriented merchandise the brand offers. Even if it wasn’t relevant, the idea itself is so intriguing you forget it’s a marketing move in the first place. What’s even better? Two of the five natural areas the KEEN campaign focuses on have been declared as “protected” since the outset of the movement, a tangible achievement consumers can really take to heart when evaluating the brand.

A perfect 10. Nailed it.

It’s an Amazon world, we’re just living in it

If you know anything about the retail industry you’ve probably heard a thing or two (or a million) about Amazon. Amazon, an ecommerce giant, provides thousands, if not millions of items to consumers from all over the world delivered to your door step within days. Retailers, physical and digital, find themselves competing with Amazon constantly. It’s hard to beat impeccably cheap prices, two-day free shipping and same-day delivery in some cities for Prime members. But now there’s something else to compete with. Amazon announced that it would be launching Prime Day, an event to celebrate their 20th anniversary. Amazon boasts that it will have deals that are much bigger than those on black Friday. Of course the purpose of this is to drive sales, but how can other retailers beat such a heavy promise?

Walmart, for one, is taking a big stab at competing with Amazon. Walmart’s CEO Fernando Medeira posted a blog titled “Why Every Day is Low Price Day at Walmart,” in which he announced they would reduce the minimum free shipping for online purchases from $50 to $35 and reduce prices on thousands of online items. “We’ve heard some retailers are charging $100 to get access to a sale,” Medeira stated in the post. “But the idea of asking consumers to pay extra in order to save money just doesn’t add up for us.” A point well made by Walmart, which was clearly taking a punch at Amazon’s Prime Day event. A few days later Walmart increased the competition a bit more with their new promotion called “Dare to Compare,” in which they guarantee that they will offer lower prices than Amazon and invite consumers to compare the prices themselves.

Though two of the biggest retailers in the world are going head to head in competing for market share based on low prices, they are not the only ones. Food Lion has also jumped on the price lowering bandwagon. They announced they would be lowering prices on thousands of items that are most important to consumers based on extensive research and frequently purchased items. To ensure that consumers are aware of the price cuts, Food Lion is using three signed deal offers including, “WOW: Lower prices on thousands of items that matter most to customers, offered for longer periods of time,” which also alludes to Amazon’s brief one-day event.

As the highly anticipated Prime Day is in full swing, many consumers are anything but impressed. Many consumers went to social media to criticize the event for its unexciting items and for the fact that there are waitlists for those items. Though Prime Day isn’t what people expected, the event still sparked a lot of competition from other retailers and interest from the media and consumers alike. The fact that other retailers created promotions in response to Prime Day deals shows just how significant Amazon’s influence is in the retail industry.